If I were to lose track of the passage of time, I’d be jolted back to reality starting around October of every year. That’s when I begin to find calendars in the mail. Usually they come from organizations and charities I (sparingly) support.
This year, I got a special calendar for Christmas. It has a different picture of piglets for each month. Everyone in my family knows I have a soft spot for pigs, so their images tend to pop up at random times of the year.
I’ve depended on paper calendars for years — with pigs and without — to keep track of family birthdays, ongoing meetings, and all manner of happenings from super moons to holidays to vacation plans.
Birthdays are like mileposts for me as I navigate a year. Thinking ahead to and planning for a birthday for a family member — or myself, for that matter — is something I look forward to. By the time I’ve posted 16 or so birthdays, I’m ready for the new year.
Our birthdays are spread through nearly every month of the year, with a few notables. Chris’s birthday is on April Fool’s Day, Edward was born on Beggar’s Night, Susanna came into the world on Labor Day, and Garrison’s birthday is on Christmas and suddenly another year’s gone.
When my children were growing up, one’s birthday dinner was a very special time. Some years, the honoree was asked to choose a favorite restaurant. Other years, he or she chose a favorite meal, which I would cook and serve.
The first birthday that comes around in January is Heather’s. Therefore, Heather will choose the dinner and dessert for all of us who can be present for her birthday and Rodney’s, which is 10 days before hers. I asked her just after Christmas what she’d like, but I knew all along.
This was a favorite of the whole family years ago. It messes up every bowl and half the pans in the kitchen, but it’s so worth it. Make lots and it freezes very well. (I have published this recipe before, but just in case you missed it, here it is again.)
4 pounds ground beef
2 cups chopped onion
3 6-ounce cans tomato paste
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup flour
8 cups milk
1 1/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
16 ounces egg noodles, cooked and drained
In a large skillet, brown beef and onions; drain. Stir in next two ingredients. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine next three ingredients. Gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick (do not boil).
In a large bowl, beat next three ingredients. Gradually stir in sauce. Add noodles.
Spoon half noodle mixture into three 2-quart baking dishes or disposable square aluminum pans. Cover with meat mixture. Top with remaining noodle mixture.
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven 45 minutes or until set.
Serves eight to 12.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.